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Oncor seeks rate hike

Oncor Electric Delivery, which serves about 3 million customers including most in North Texas, on Friday filed for a 17.6 percent rate increase in its charges for delivering power to homes, which the company estimated would add $5.09 to the average household’s monthly bill.

Overall, Oncor seeks an additional $275 million a year, which amounts to an 11 percent increase for all classes of customers. The company estimated that as a percentage of a residential customer’s total monthly electricity bill, its request amounts to a 2.7 percent increase.

Oncor, part of Energy Future Holdings, formerly known as TXU, owns and operates about 116,000 miles of electricity transmission and distribution wires and related equipment. Unlike EFH’s retail and generation operations, which are unregulated, Oncor’s rates remain under the review of the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

The PUC has 185 days to review the filing and render a decision, said agency spokesman Terry Hadley. Oncor asks that the rate increase, which it said was the company’s first since 2001, become effective as of Aug. 8.

Friday’s filing is in addition to a separate PUC filing last month in which Oncor seeks permission to collect an extra $2.29 a month from residential customers to cover the cost of installing new electricity meters.

That charge, along with slightly higher charges to business customers, would net the company about $690 million over 11 years.

The advanced meters will allow the company to eliminate meter readers and provide billing on an hour-by-hour basis.

Geoffrey Gay, an Austin attorney who represents a number of cities, including Fort Worth and Arlington, in utility matters said he was “a little surprised at the amount the company is requesting.” He said “it’s entirely appropriate to be analyzing the overall costs to run the company” and his group will be gearing up to review Oncor’s filing, which is hundreds of pages.

Last year, as part of its $45 billion buyout by private investors, EFH had pledged to file by July 1 for a rate review of Oncor’s costs.

In a prepared release, Oncor Chief Executive Bob Shapard said that “even with this increase, Oncor’s delivery charges will remain among the lowest in the state.”

JIM FUQUAY, 817-390-7552